Bias in Your Search Results Lesson @ CCLI 2019

In early May, I presented a lightning talk at the California Conference on Library Instruction about a lesson I designed for an upper-division Critical Race and Ethnic Studies course at UC Merced. I’m a little shy about sharing instructional materials, so this was actually the first time I shared a lesson plan and activity I’ve designed for a class with folks who aren’t my colleagues. I first designed the lesson in Spring 2018, and I’ve tweaked it a few times since then.

As promised at the conference, I got my act together and put up my lesson plan and materials on Project CORA. Let me know if I have typos or broken links. Of course, if you end up using or adapting this, I’d love to know, as well.

Library Instruction West 2018

Library Instruction West 2018 was held at Colorado Mesa University (CMU), in Grand Junction, Colorado in July. (I’ve been working on this post since early August, and it’s now almost mid-September!). The campus is absolutely beautiful.

My colleague and friend Laureen Cantwell also did a tremendous job organizing the conference at CMU.

This was my second time attending LIW, and its become one of my favorite conferences, and not just because Christal and I had a successful presentation. I like its smaller size, and its focus is specific to the work I do. I met some wonderful folks (I need to contact them as a follow-up!), and all of the talks and workshops I attended were useful and interesting.

Here’s a round-up of what I attended, along with some notes.

Pre-Conference Workshop with Maria Konnikova

Psychologist, science writer, and professional poker player, Konnikova is the author of  Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (2013), emphasizes the importance of slowing down, especially when it comes to solving problems, which is the tactic that Sherlock Holmes uses to solve crimes. In this workshop, she walked us through breathing and visualization exercises and then we played a game of Mafia. (I don’t really enjoy playing games, especially in front of people I don’t know, so when it came for my turn to be accused, I just wasn’t into making my plea and said I was okay with the group just voting me out. LOL! This is a true story. I felt incredible relief leaving the circle.) The point I took was that slowing down really is helpful for creativity.

She also shared two mindfulness apps that she uses, Primed Mind and Headspace.

Embracing the Mystery: Mindfulness, Creativity, and Critical Thinking Techniques from Sherlock Holmes

In this keynote, Konnikova continued her mindfulness theme. Mindfulness helps unclutter your mind, or better organize your mind attic, as Sherlock Holmes calls it. It helps train attention muscles as our brains can’t actually multitask (our brains just switch rapidly through something called rapid task-switching).

If you read the Konnikova piece I linked re: the mind attic, she references a really interesting study that was done about the effect of technology on our mind attics. In our networked world, we are able deploy memory but in a different way.

In a recent study in Science, Betsy Sparrow and a team of researchers from Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found two important effects: first, when people are primed to think about computers, or when they expect to have access to information in the future, they are far less able to recall the information. However—and this is the second effect—they are far better able to remember where (and how) to find the information. (Konnikova, n.d.)

In the piece, she asks us to consider going through our mind attics on occasion, as the information we’re storing helps us with making decisions. While the post doesn’t necessarily say how, if you consider her book, mindfulness can help.

Just 5-10 minutes of mindfulness a day has many benefits, including clarity of thought, emotional stability, and better problem-solving skills (the Bill and Linda problem). For an example of how mindfulness can help in education, Dr. Amishi Jha‘s research has been very influential.

Mindfulness helps broaden your visual field. I wrote a big fat YES!!! in my notes when she mentioned that folks who are depressed aren’t able to pay attention to as many details. When I was 21, I went through something that really put me in a fog, so I started seeing a counselor. Almost a year later, I walked into his office and asked about the new painting behind his couch. It had actually been there the entire time! I was absolutely shocked. That’s when I knew I was feeling better. I had more clarity.) This keynote also encouraged me to get back into my yoga practice. It’s difficult, but slowing down is something I need to do to help me reset, allowing me to look at things more clearly.

Discovering Student-Centered Instruction: Applying the Framework Using Backward Design

I attended this mostly as a refresher. It reminded me a lot about a planning session my colleagues and I had to begin drafting some digital learning objects for a new GE course. I had also just finished the Thing 22 module of the 23 Framework Things.

I had just given my presentation before this one, so I wasn’t quite in the right mindset to fully engage with the task. I was still trying to tackle one section of the worksheet by the end, but the worksheet is a really helpful planning tool. I’m having trouble locating it and will need to reach out to Cordova and Wanucha to post it here, but it is adapted from the Information Literacy by Design template at ulinstructors.web.unc.edu.

Checklists Are Not Enough: Exploring Emotional Intelligence as Information Literacy

For some students, the issues they are choosing to investigate are highly personal. As a librarian who teaches in a one-shot environment, one of the greatest challenges is rapport. We don’t know the students, and the students don’t know us. I really care about students’ feelings, and I could be inadvertently causing some kind of internal crisis when I’m asking students to consider other factors when developing research questions and finding information.

So often, students are creating questions for which they have already decided what the answer should be, even if its not supported by the literature, but how we approach this issue needs to be done sensitively. Because humans have the tendency to reject information that doesn’t line up with our preexisting beliefs [an interesting study that was referenced is Kahan (2011)], it can be challenging for students to accept reliable sources of information that contradict their experiences and values. Passing the CRAAP test or other checklists isn’t enough (I think most of us agree that these are too simplistic; in the library literature, Meola began discussing this in 2004). How can we help students work through this? How can we help students cultivate awareness of their values? This is an important part of information literacy but one that isn’t addressed specifically in our practice, but there are elements of it in the Framework, and several librarians have done some writing on the role of emotional intelligence in library instruction.

In “Indigenous Information Literacy: Nêhiyaw Kinship Enabling Self-Care in Research,” a chapter in The Politics of Theory and the Practice of Critical Librarianship, Loyer (2018) explains that “[l]ibrarians need to address the student’s whole self..in IL instruction.” In Critten’s (2016) “Death of the Author (ity): Repositioning Students as Constructors of Meaning in Information Literacy Instruction,” which can be found in Critical Literacy for Information Professionals, argues that “[t]he library classroom should be a place where students confront their prejudices.” In a blog post title “Wiretaps and CRAAP,” Kevin Seeber (2017) writes:

“Our ability to evaluate information, and explain that process to others, has to involve recognizing that we, and the people with whom we interact, are whole human beings, each of us bringing a set of lived experiences that are unique. And those experiences, as much as anything, are going to drive what we accept as ‘real.”

And in “Motivated Reasoning, Political Information, and Information Literacy Education,” Lenker (2016) writes, “Information literacy education should broaden its scope to include more than just knowledge of information and its sources; it should also include knowledge of how people interact with information.”

Heinbach offers some practical ways that we can help students better interact with information. For example, we can ask students to think about questions they should always ask themselves when evaluating information, such as, “What are my existing biases?”  We can also have students reflect on any previous life experiences that may have influenced the selection of their research topics. Another method she mentioned that I think would work to help students think a bit more deeply about sources they are evaluating and reading is to have them reflect on how much a particular source helps them learn. Another activity is to have students come up with their own evaluative criteria (I have done this latter activity in an upper division writing class). Heinback also referenced a crowdsourced list of activities and strategies to help counter cognitive dissonance from Kirker and Stonebreaker’s LOEX 2018 presentation.

Check out the presentation at bit.ly/liwfeelingsIL. It was very thought-provoking, and I am looking forward to doing some more reading and work on this topic. I think it has the potential to really help students developing their critical thinking skills in ways that can help shape their responses to information well after college.

Activities for Evolving Student Needs: Teaching Discovery and Citation through Competitive Play 

I know what I said earlier about not really liking games (LOL!), but this was a fun session, and it provided me with ideas to bring back to one of the Spanish instructors I have been working with who isn’t thrilled with the citations students have been producing in their composition papers. (Part of that has to do with just not spending any time outside of sending them to Purdue OWL; one three-month freshmen writing course is not enough.) At the end of the spring semester, she and I got together to discuss activities to help her students with MLA, and I had mentioned that an adaptation of Citation Relay might be helpful and fun. I was so pleased to see that Citation Bowl is another version of the Relay, and it’s a better fit since it’s based off of citations created by citation tools, which is what I had suggested since that’s how students are using to cite (I encourage these tools, but students need to know they aren’t perfect).

What I really liked about the Discovery Puzzle is that students have to both use a search tool and focus on the information available at the item record level. In a webinar I recently attended about critical reading, one of the librarians noted that students also need to learn how to read results lists, and this exercise is one way to encourage a closer examination and help students identify the information they need to create citations. Very clever.

Also, for sources that show that play is a helpful way for adults to learn (child development scholars and practitioners already know that children learn through play), check out:

Teaching the Craft of Writing an Effective Research Question

Although these lessons are used in a for-credit information literacy course, I think they can work in a one-shot environment if instructors would be willing to have students do some pre-work. I’m going to share these lessons with my colleagues because our hope with the new GE curriculum is that we can spend time on research as inquiry for the in-person lesson. We have developed some digital learning objects to help tackle other things students need to know but that can be more readily done online. Note that these lessons are not necessarily in any order. Also, many of these activities have think-pair-share and group elements, but I’ll leave it up to you to read the full lesson plans.

Lesson: Characteristics of Effective Research Questions

Prior to the first lesson, students have to read a chapter in Turabian’s (2010) Student’s Guide to Writing College Papers, which helps them learn the characteristics of effective research questions. (But I believe Markowski said that even if they don’t read the chapter, it doesn’t break the class activity; for one-shot librarians, I think this is crucial.) In class, the students go over the evaluative criteria again and, working in pairs, are provided with a sample research question to improve upon.

Lesson: Peer Review Research Questions

Markowski noted that while students are able to improve sample research questions, evaluating their own research questions is still challenging, but having students peer review each other’s questions is another way to help them transfer what they have learned about effective research questions.

Lesson: Moving Beyond Scenarios

This lesson can help students narrow down research interests into focused statements about their investigation that can then help them pinpoint a research questions. Students are provided with a real-world research scenario (I believe the examples selected are for a specific course) in which they have to condense the topic into a fill-in-the blank statement (I have used variations of this before):

I am working on the topic of _______________ because I want to find out _______________ so I can suggest to _______________ what to do to improve _______________.

From this statement, they then compose a question. The question must also meet the criteria for an effective research question.

Lesson: Topic Brainstorm

I believe this lesson is taken or adapted from Rebuilding Research Writing: Strategies for Sparking Informational Inquiry (2014), which is aimed at high school instructors (I’m adding this to my Goodreads account!).

This lesson has students think about how their specific interest links to a bigger (societal) issue. I think this could be a really effective way to help students who may be selecting specific topics based on current events be better equipped, at least in mindset, to find scholarly information that connects to, but is not exactly the same as), their chosen topic. For example, a student from a Spanish composition class (think of this as the equivalent of first-year writing but in Spanish) wanted to write about a racially-charged incident involving a Republican student group on campus, but the issue was that she needed to use scholarly sources…in Spanish. It was challenging encouraging her to think about, say, activism on college campuses or how colleges and universities are grappling with free speech, etc.

In the Problems Around the World activity, students draw a series of three concentric circles. In the middle (Me) circle, students list something that effects them. In the next circle (Community), they try to tie the issue to something in the community, and then try to tie that to something happening in the country (Nation). I’m sure that there are other ways to label the circles, but I think this is a clever exercise.

Lesson: Narrowing a Topic Brainstorm

What I like about this is that it really shows students that pre-research is a valuable part of the research process. It’s a step that needs to be more clearly spelled out for students. It’s not enough to say to do it; we need to show them how.

In this lesson, the instructor shows students how to develop a topic based on sources. The instructor comes to class with three peer-reviewed articles related to a topic, such as sustainable agriculture and then produces a topical mindmap. From the results of the mindmap, the instructor then poses who, what, where, when questions to the topics in order to fish out a particular line of inquiry. Students then work with a partner to discuss their interests and pose who, what, where, when questions to each other’s topics.

Socially Responsible Pedagogy: Critical Information Literacy through Social Justice

Ernesto Hernández is a former University of California (UC Irvine) and Instruction for Diverse Populations (IS-IDP) committee colleague, and I was excited to attend his program. Before I left to LIW, I had taught a lesson for CRES 101 Race and the Media, and the instructor invited me back to teach for her class again the spring. I plan to write to her about the assignment shared in this presentation because I think it ties in nicely.

Hernández and his colleague Beatty teach Information Navigator (LIBS 1704), which is a required, lower-division course at Weber State University. General education courses must meet the following outcomes: content knowledge, intellectual tools, responsibility to self and others, and must also emphasize connected and applied learning. Courses also must involve a big question and signature assignment. LIBS 1704 is anchored in critical librarianship and based on the understanding that “librarians have a political responsibility to students to engage in critical inquiry that interrogates information about race, class, dis/ability, sexual orientation or gender.” The big question is “How does information literacy help bring awareness to social justice issues?”

For the signature assignment, students produce a research project based on social justice-oriented imagery. Students have to create a group presentation using sources that tie to their topic and the class’ big question. They can choose from seven different images and can opt to write about the artwork itself, or they can use it to launch an investigation about the themes central to the art. The students actually select the “topic” by selecting an image. For example, students who choose “Sun Mad” might write a paper about how pesticides affect farmworkers. Both Hernandez and Beatty agree that using images in this way is a helpful way for students to learn about social justice topics and also provides librarians opportunities to tie topics like these into courses.

Check out the slides at bit.ly/liw18images for more details.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Bias

In many ways, this was a perfect pairing with Heinbach’s Checklists Are Not Enough: Exploring Emotional Intelligence as Information Literacy presentation. I was really happy I went to both of these.

I realized that my notes at this session were not good, so I reached out to Leuzinger about obtaining a copy of his slides. Here is the PDF version of his presentation: What We Talk About When We Talk About Bias

Research as Inquiry in First-Year Composition

Springmier, a librarian, and Miller, a composition instructor and writing center director, delivered a presentation about how Sonoma State University has been able to re-imagine its first-year composition program. Using Baer’s (2016) Information Literacy and Writing Studies in Conversation: Reenvisioning Library-Writing Program Connections, ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, and the WPA’s Framework for Success in Post-Secondary Writing, they worked to change the conversation about research and move away from one-shot instruction to collaborative work focused on the research as inquiry frame of the ACRL Framework. (It many ways, I feel like this parallels with the work we are trying to do for the new Spark Seminars at UC Merced.)

Springmier and Miller developed a new, accessible language that brings together both librarian and composition pedagogy, which also shows that the library is an equal partner in teaching research and information literacy. The library then re-marketed its library instruction by packaging instructional activities on a library guide that correspond to the new pedagogy. They introduced these activities, which can be taught by either librarians or instructors, in a series of workshops aimed at writing instructors. (We do this with TRAIL at UC Merced, but, with Spark, we are creating learning objects in Canvas.) I’d really love to talk to Springmier about the research as inquiry guidelines that she and Miller created at Sonoma; I think this could potentially help us be better able to communicate with faculty about the ideas behind the Framework.

Check out the slides at schd.ws/hosted_files/liw2018/e5/LIW.pptx for more information.

I have so much reading to do and ideas to try out as a result of LIW 2018. I’m really looking forward to LIW 2020! If you haven’t attended before, I highly recommend it.

Integrating Intersectionality into Library Instruction & Programming

I’ve had a very busy summer in terms of conferences. I came back from ALA Annual 2018, and right as I was finally getting caught up at work, I was off to Library Instruction West 2018 at Colorado Mesa University. To present! I’ve not been very active in terms of presenting, and this has everything to do with imposter syndrome and having difficulty coming up with a topic (the irony considering how much I like teaching about this), but I took the plunge and was so pleased to have been selected as a presenter.

I worked with Christal Young, Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Southern California, to lead a discussion about incorporating intersectional themes in instruction and outreach work. The abstract reads:

Incorporating critical librarianship into daily practice may initially seem daunting due to varying demands and constraints. Given these challenges, how can we help first-year students develop more complex understandings of social issues that they may be researching and writing about in their composition courses? How do we reach first-year students who may have overlapping identities find resources and support during their time at the university? Join two academic librarians who will introduce the efforts they have made to incorporate intersectional themes into instruction and educational programming on their respective campuses. Librarians attending this roundtable discussion will brainstorm and share ideas for engaging in first-year instruction and outreach efforts that promote intersectionality.

We do plan to add on to the initial guide we put together throughout the year.

I was happy to receive nice feedback about our talk while at the conference, and I was also surprised to see it circulate on Twitter a bit via the ACRL Instruction Section and individual librarians. (Thank you!)

I hope our librarian colleagues find our slides and guide helpful.

I will write more about the other presentations and workshops I attended in another post. I really enjoyed this conference, and I learned a lot from my colleagues.

 

ACRL 2017 Conference

Back at the end of March, I attended ACRL 2017 in Baltimore. I hadn’t attended ACRL before, and I was able to go with two of my colleagues in Access Services. There were a few sessions and events I enjoyed at ACRL, including Roxane Gay’s keynote and hanging out with folks from the Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group, but I found that I was just really tired and couldn’t get myself going in the mornings. I was wiped out by the last day, so much so that I also missed the Librarian of Congress’ closing remarks. I didn’t even look at any posters, which is also very unlike me. (The three-hour time change may have had something to do with it.) A colleague and I were able to visit Ft. McHenry for about an hour or so before grabbing lunch and hitting the airport back home.

Looking back through the conference booklet, there are quite a few sessions, papers, and posters I want to dig into, but here is what I attended:

Find more conference papers here. Find the conference’s complete proceedings (available as a PDF) here.

Title Change

I just got back from ACRL 2017 in Baltimore late on Saturday night, and I’m definitely feeling the jet lag! I’ll write more about the conference later this week, but I wanted to update on my job. We’re getting another instruction librarian position, so our access services librarian is going to make a lateral move at the beginning of the fall semester. This afforded an opportunity for the instruction librarians to update our job descriptions a bit. We all do more or less similar things, and while we don’t have subject specialties, we decided to have one or two things in our descriptions that are slightly different.

I’m now the Instruction & Outreach Librarian, which is really exciting! Though we all do this type of work in our liaison areas and in other work that we do, my title change reflects a new job duty: “Collaborates with Student Affairs to increase students’ awareness and use of library services and resources.” I think my personality and creative spirit are really well suited to this kind of work; I’m just still getting used to our library culture, and I don’t think the various folks in Student Affairs will be used to the idea of partnering more closely with the library, but I hope to build some bridges. Creativity is really important to me, and I’m happy that I have some more wiggle room for it in my work.

This is also a very timely change because Jen Park at Mount Saint Mary College and I are starting our roles as co-conveners for ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group right after ALA Annual in Chicago.

This Is What a Librarian Looks Like

My Elephant and Piggie dreams have come true!

This is What a Librarian Looks Like

The absolute craziest thing happened yesterday. I found out that I’m on the cover of a book that will be published in May 2017. Sure, the photo is from 2.5 years ago (it will be a 3-year-old photo when it’s published) when I was a little rounder and pre-Invisalign, and the photo is not my personal best…blah blah blah…but it’s pretty darn cool.

In February of 2014, an article on Slate called “This is What a Librarian Looks Like,” which featured photography by Kyle Cassidy, went viral. In June, there was enough money in the Kickstarter campaign to “photograph and interview more than 300 Librarians at the ALA conference in Las Vegas [and] to also fund the stretch goals of creating a series of stock photographs for libraries to use, doing five hours of video interviews, and doing some photography for the new Joan of Dark book on knitting projects for book lovers” (Cassidy, 2014). Read more about the project here: http://kylecassidy.com/librarians/

Back in May 2014, I had just finished up my first year as a tenure track faculty librarian at a community college, and I decided to attend the American Library Annual Conference in Las Vegas that June (I paid for the whole trip out of pocket). I didn’t really intend to participate in the photo taking (I’m shyer and struggle with putting myself out there), but the initial librarians involved were encouraging. I filled out the model release and wrote up a statement answering one of these questions.

1) What are the greatest challenges facing libraries today?
2) What are the most important services that libraries provide?
3) What inspired you to do what you do?
4) What do libraries do that people might not know about?
5) What would happen in your community if all the libraries shut down tomorrow?
6) Why are libraries relevant when the Internet exists?

The thing is, I don’t remember which I answered or what I wrote! I had almost forgotten about this whole project. I suspect that I answered #3. I will find out in May. It may be that not everyone’s statement was included, but being on the cover is cool.

Anyway, my parents who don’t know much about what I actually do are super excited. My sister showed them my Facebook status update (they are not computer users…my mom doesn’t even have a mobile phone). This is what my whole family is getting for Christmas 2017. As I said on Instagram, Amazon, all of those pre-orders are from me. LOL! (P.S. You can pre-order a copy here.)

I’m looking forward to reading what everyone wrote!

Instruction Brown Bag Sessions

One neat thing we do at the UC Merced Library is meet during a lunch hour to discuss information literacy and research instruction. We have an internal LibGuide for these sessions. Over the summer, we met after the Library Instruction West 2016 conference to share about sessions we attended as my colleagues and I tried to attend different sessions from each other. I shared two sessions I attended at LIW 2016 during the first brown bag (you can read about everything I attended at LIW 2016 here). We had our second instruction brown bag lunch in mid-August. Here is a summary of the sessions my colleagues attended at LIW 2016.

Foothills to Fourteeners: Preparing Students for Research in the Real World

This session referred to Problem Based Learning (PBL) and the ARCS Model of Motivational Design.

The ARCS Model can help encourage student motivation. A refers to attention, stimulating and sustaining learners’ interests. R refers to relevance, meeting the needs and goals of learners to effect a positive change. C refers to confidence, helping learners believe they will succeed and can control their success. S refers to satisfaction, reinforcing the accomplishment with internal or external awards. Chapter 3 of John Keller’s (2010) Motivational Design for Learning and Performance: The Arcs Model Approach provides strategies for how to approach each area.

It can be challenging to stimulate students’ interest in learning, and I think it’s perhaps more challenge for research instruction because students tend to be over-confident in their research abilities when arriving to a session. I found the ARCS model really useful to pinpoint the areas where I can focus my efforts to increase motivation in my teaching. In our discussion about how to apply ARCS, we all agreed that getting and sustaining students’ attention is the hardest part. I struggle with this, too, because, usually, I am really focused on getting the housekeeping bits out of the way, including objectives for the lesson. One of my colleagues shared that one “hook” she uses is a cute video about how picking a topic is research (I have used the video before, but not, specifically, as a hook). Generally, our instruction is tied to specific course assignments and requirements, so it’s pretty targeted, though I do try to  indicate that what they are learning is relevant for research in and out of school. Confidence is a little more challenging because, generally, we are only seeing students one time, but we do reinforce during hands-on practice and iterate that research takes practice for everyone. during A strategy to help measure satisfaction might be to use Padlet to ask students what they are hoping to learn at the beginning of a session and then going back to see if the things students listed were met.

As a result of this discussion, we will be using an exit slip for our instruction this semester that seeks to gain feedback about attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. We will have the option to use our other exit slip for those who wish to measure some other things. After this term, we’re going to analyze the results. I’m really looking forward to seeing how focusing on these areas can improve my teaching.

Digital Research Notebook: A Simple Tool for Reflective Learning at Scale

The UCLA Library developed the Digital Research Notebook as a way to move beyond one-shot instruction (the one-shot plus language by Char Booth). The Google Doc is a “combination of video tutorials and reflective writing prompts, [which] guides student[s] through the research process. The notebook can be assigned on its own, as a pre-assignment for a one-shot session, or as the backbone of a credit course or research consultation.” The notebooks are useful for librarians to actually be able to see student work.

Outside of the Academic Garden: Lifelong Learning for Engineers

Mary DeJong and Wendy Holliday reported their findings from surveys and interviews conducted with graduates of Northern Arizona University who had majored in engineering. Those surveyed discussed what tools they use to find information, what information needs they have, and how they approach various research projects. Check out the link to the presentation slides to learn more about their findings. I think the results hold lots of implications for librarians who teach information literacy for engineering students. There may be something you can create with engineering faculty that would be helpful for students.

Three Months Later

The summer really flew by! Last Thursday marked three months in my new position. I discovered that working throughout the summer is a much better fit for me. I had two years worth of summers off, and that was enough for me. School started on Aug. 24, and it has been a little strange seeing so many students on campus. We have over 2,000 new freshmen and are up to about 7,000 students or so. It’s a small university, but I came a very small center of a community college, and while my previous library was full just because of its small size, it’s amazing to see how busy it is already.

Below is a quick list of some projects and events I worked on this summer and during the first couple of weeks of school. I also observed instruction sessions, met with students for in-person research consultations, and did some digital reference.

  • attended the Library Instruction West 2016 conference and attended and presented at the National Diveristy in Libraries Conference.
  • updated some Guide on the Side tutorials,  investigated and annotated Creative Commons tutorials from other libraries for our internal instruction online guide, and added readings to another instruction online guide.
  • presented and tabled at new student orientations for freshmen, transfer, and graduate students, including one tabling event for Spanish-speaking parents.
  • co-created an online research guide for our Common Read book, Living Downstream.
  • co-taught two plagiarsim workshops for ASCEND, the university’s new student success conference.
  • taught two website overview workshops for new and seasoned library student workers
  • co-planned and tabled our Welcome Week event.
  • created my very first video tutorial using Camtasia, “Requesting a Full-Text Article through UC-eLinks.”
  • met with a new economics faculty member. I am the primary contact for Social Sciences (economics, management, and public health–we have a new Ph.D. program in public health) and am a secondary contact for Interdisciplinary Humanities. My areas in the IH are Spanish, American studies, and history. I am also helping with psychological sciences. Our liaison program is still very much in its infancy, and our goal for the fall is to meet with all the graduate group chairs.
  • attended an all-day TRAIL workshop and inaugural First Year Writing Symposium.
  • attended and participated in library strategic planning meetings.
  • met with the new librarian at my previous institution. The notes I wrote seem to be helping, and I’m really glad I prepared them and cleaned up files as much as I did. I wish her the best!

Below is a list of what’s on the horizon for this fall and the academic year.

  • For this academic year, I’m serving as the local secretary for LAUC-M (I am featured on the main LAUC website this month!), member of  LAUC’s Research and Professional Development Committee, and member of our library’s Student Recognition Committee.
  • We’re starting to book instruction sessions, and I’m looking forward to working with faculty/lecturers and students in the classroom. It’s nice to be in a library where there are strong relationships with the writing lecturers. My experience as a writing tutor in college is what helped me realize I enjoyed working with college students. A big shout out to my long-time friends Matt and Heather who began this work with the library in 2013! I’m also excited that the pilot for the Writing Center in the library is continuing this year.
  • I started my tenure as the incoming co-convener for the Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group! This group is what encouraged me to get more involved in professional library associations back in 2014. A big shout-out for the folks who encouraged me to apply to be a co-convener. I’m truly honored. This is the type of group where folks are on the leadership for three years, first as incoming convener, convener, and then a post-convener to help the new conveners. We had out first meeting via Google Hangouts this last week. We submitted a proposal to have a panel session at this year’s ALA Annual Conference. I’m hoping our group gets a slot. The idea is that the interest group at large will vote on three presentation topics submitted by group members. The panel members will be those with the winning proposals. Our next meeting is in October. In addition to planning, I will also be helping to manage the Facebook group.
  • I’m also continuing my tenure as a member of ACRL’s CJCLS’ Communications Committee. I started my appointment in 2015, and although I am no longer at a community college, I will be carrying out my role through June 2017. I help out with the Scholarship page on the blog and have written a couple of blog posts. I am thinking about pitching Zotero for the Scholarship page content.
  • I was secretary for ACRL’s IS’ Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee in 2015/2016, and I’m continuing as a member of the group for 2016/2017. We’ll be focused on updating the Multilingual Glossary. Our next meeting is in mid-September.
  • My colleagues and I are going to visit the Yosemite Research Library at the end of September.

Stay tuned! I am having a great time here. I’m looking forward to this semester.

National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC) 2016

This was a really great conference, and not just because I went to Universal Studies Hollywood to look at the Harry Potter section of the park when the conference was over. 😉

I’m a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to things like this, so it might not be that exciting for more seasoned folks, but I co-presented a poster for the first time! I am on ACRL’s Instruction Section’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee, and during the last year, we have been updating a selected bibliography of resources for inclusive library instruction. A few of us from the committee decided to present a poster on our work to help advertise the bibliography. I met one of my committee colleagues in June at another conference, but it was nice to get to talk with the other group members in person. Working online with this group has been a great experience. This coming year, we’ll be working on the Multilingual Glossary. Click here for the description of our poster.

NDLC Poster

For quick access (the tl;dr version), here are the sessions I attended in a list. The links take you to the descriptions from the program. Below this list, I have included my notes/thoughts for each session. I really need to start doing summaries when they are more fresh in my mind.

Keynote Address

We had the very great honor of hearing a message from Lakota Harden. She spoke a little about her background, including her time at a residential boarding school; her people’s relationship to water; the protests happening against the Dakota pipeline; and unlearning racism and gender discrimination.

Harden took a few questions, as well. Someone asked about preservation and access to items in museums and archives. Harden asked how many of us had visited the National Museum of the American Indian. “How did those things get there?” Talk about living in a post-colonial world view. I didn’t grow up going to museums, so I have always thought of these these places as “fancy”rather than as places that serve to make a spectacle of native culture for the enjoyment of non-native people. But it is true. (Here is Ulali’s song “Museum Cases.”) She explained that when people visit or drive by reservations, they don’t want to see reality and yearn for a romanticized view of Native Americans. This makes me think about the part in Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad where Cora and a few other young black women posed for a museum installation. Harden explained that things were being returned to native populations.

She also spoke about white people’s tendency to “help” as a way to feel better and get an “innocent certificate.” Someone asked how the library community could help native voices. Harden expressed that the act of listening and hearing lifts the weight of the loss of language, devastation, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, and lack of education affecting Native American peoples. Someone else asked about the lack of native representation in children’s literature, and Harden expressed that native communities are dealing with very scary, difficult situations, so it’s not surprising that there is a lack of materials. She asked that we become allies, that we continue to include native voices in our collections and programs, that we go out to meet the native community where they are and listen. “Coming together is a sacred act.”

Identity at Play: Exploring Racial and Identity Theory in Everyday Experiences in Academic Libraries

This panel was slightly different from that described on the program. The focus of the program was on these three questions.

  1. What is identity theory? How do race/ethnicity shape our sense of self?
  2. What does intersectionality mean? How do we unpack it?
  3. How can we apply this framework to our work?

In introducing racial and identity theory, the panelists asked us to think about how identity may play out in the library. Asking for help is simply uncomfortable; it’s a sign of vulnerability. One of the participants shared a story where a student who was not white had waited a really long time to ask a librarian a question related to blackness because she waited for a non-white librarian. I can understand how the student would have been uncomfortable, not just asking for help, but asking for help from someone who may or may not be an ally. The panelists brought up Hall’s chapter in The 21st Century Black Librarian in America (2012), “The Black Body at the Reference Desk: Critical Race Theory and Black Librarianship.” It sounded really familiar, and then I realized I had come across the citation in Hathcock’s article “White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS” (2015) from In the Library With the Lead Pipe.

In the intersectionality section, the panelists introduced the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term in 1989. The panelists also pointed to Crenshaw’s Washington Post article from September 2015, “Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait.”

In my notes, I also listed the citations below, but I have no context for why I wrote them down.

Bonnet, J.L., & McAlexander, B. (2013). First impressions and the reference encounter: The influence of affect and clothing on librarian approachability. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 4 (39), 335-346. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2012.11.025

Ortega, A.C., & Ramos, M. (2012). Recruiting and mentoring: Proactive mentoring: Attracting Hispanic American students in information studies. In J.L. Ayala & Salvador Guereña (Eds.), Pathways to progress: Issues and advances in Latino librarianship (103-124). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Price (2010)? Why would I write only this? I should use this to show students why taking good notes saves a lot of hair-pulling.

Academic Libraries Spearheading Diversity and Cultural Initiatives on University Campuses

In this lightning round, librarians from four institutions shared what they have been doing on their campuses to support diversity and introducing students to new cultures.

I was very impressed by the programming work at the University of Cincinnati Library. One thing they did was provide students with diversity/inclusion journals at the beginning of the year. These are just composition books, so not at all expensive. During each cultural event or program, the library provided a writing prompt for students to reflect on. The journals were not collected; the intent was to help cultivate a culture of writing. While the librarians shared several wonderful examples of diversity programming and events, there were two that I was very interested in. Around Thanksgiving, the library held an event called Coming Together to Give Thanks. The speakers were students who shared cultural foods, rituals, and traditions from their home countries or ethnic backgrounds. I was also very drawn to the library’s Reading Around the World book club. Click here to find their LibGuide to learn more about it.

At the University of Tennessee Knoxville, there is a campus-wide diversity committee with library representation. I believe there are also campus representatives on the library’s diversity committee. For the last 15 years, the University Libraries have had a three-year diversity residency program. I was very impressed to learn that the library still has a relationship with former residents. The university also has an Office for Diversity and Interculturalism, a Black Issues Conference, and an International Festival. I didn’t write down how the library is involved, which is a bummer, but I can contact the librarians who spoke about these programs and events. The campus and the library seem very engaged in diversity efforts.

Chapman University, which has an emphasis on global citizenship, has a very robust exhibit program focused on diversity in its Leatherby Libraries. Essraa Nawar (check out her TED Talk!), the library development coordinator, explained that she has had great success in pairing fundraising with diversity efforts. I was so blown away by the sorts of donors and exhibits they have had at Chapman that I didn’t even write down a single example.

I was so happy to see folks from California State University Fresno! I’m a CSU graduate–both for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and Fresno is just south of Merced. I was also very impressed with the Henry Madden Library‘s diversity work both in and outside the library. Click here to see the library’s diversity committee Facebook page. The committee supports the university’s mission to promote and celebrate diversity through library programming and exhibits, LGBTQ Allies, Library Diversity Lounge, Meditation and Prayer Room, and International Coffee Hour Presentations.

Educating the Educators: Proactive Approaches to the Inclusive Classroom

This session was comprised of two individual presentations. The first presentation was given by Paula M. Smith from Penn State Abington and focused on the Global Awareness Dialogue Project (GADP). GADP is a faculty development program that engages faculty in the exchange of ideas about contemporary global issues in education, with an emphasis on non-Western educational systems. The sessions are three hours long and are open to 20 or so faculty members who register for the program.

After Smith introduced the session, we were asked to complete The Numbers Exercise, which was developed by Roxanna Senyshyn and Marianne Brandt. Essentially, it’s a list of simple math problems, but the directions indicate that subtract means to multiply; divide means to add; add means to divide; and multiply means to subtract. So 12 x 2 really means 12-2. After a few minutes, Smith asked how we felt completing the worksheet. I said it was stressful. The idea behind this is that this is the sort of frustration international and immigrant students feel navigating American academic life.

Smith then discussed the types of GADP sessions they have had at the university. In one program,  a panel of international and immigrant students, representing East Asian, African, South Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, were able to tell faculty members about some struggles they have had in the classroom. For example, Chinese students were not familiar with cursive. Students were Googling the characters one by one! The students also said they felt stupid because many of their classmates would leave exams early. Chinese students, if given 30 minutes, will use the whole time. There are also some challenges about what academic integrity means in a western framework. What a wonderful way to include student voices and help faculty foster more inclusive classrooms.

I’m really itching to talk to someone about this, but being so new, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for me. However, the person in charge of Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning is also new. We actually sat next to each other at the new employee orientation.

One neat thing I jotted down that was a result of one of the GADP sessions was that faculty members who speak more than one language started putting little stickers (or signs) on their windows/doors that said, “My name is_____. I speak ________.” How fabulous! I’m thinking about doing that underneath the name plate on my office window.

The second presentation was given by Shannon Simpson from Johns Hopkins University. She helped developed the Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments (TILE), which is a toolkit of “best practices [and] a repository of specific examples that all faculty are welcome to replicate or re-use.”

Simpson shared a sample assignment that professors/librarians teaching information literacy, business, marketing, and communication could use. It’s a simple but effective assignment. “In 2014 a food and entertainment public relations firm called Strange Fruit was the subject of a media backlash. Ask the students to Google the term strange fruit to see why.” (I literally gasped out loud that no one at this company knew what this meant!) Students then answer these questions:

  • To what does the term refer?
  • Where did the term originate and who has used it since then?
  • What would you tell this firm if during the media firestorm they had come to you for advice?

During the session, we also did a pair-share in which we came up with groups or people we could partner with to share about TILE, such as a diversity committee, student life/affinity groups, teaching and learning groups, university departments, human resources, provost/president’s office, and other relevant people or groups. I plan to share this resource with the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning. I will probably also share this resource with some of the writing lecturers I know who I think would be interested in this. I also plan to ask my colleagues from ACRL’s Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee if we can add this resource to the bibliography; the general resources section is a great catch-all.

Why We Stay: The Motivation of Veteran Underrepresented Minority Academic Librarians

I actually met Antonia (Toni) Olivas trying to find where the keynote address was going to be held, and I am glad I was able to attend the session she was moderating. While Olivas was completing her dissertation on motivational theory, she realized she wanted to do a larger project and decided to edit a book. Choosing to Lead: The Motivational Factors of Underrepresented Minority Librarians in Higher Education will be published in early 2017, and I can’t wait to read it.

At the beginning of the session, Olivas briefly discussed Chan and Drasgow’s (2001) Motivation to Lead (MTL), which includes personality, values, self-efficacy, and previous experience. Motivational identities include affective, social normative, and non-calculative. Most minority librarians stay in the profession due to these identities.

This panel was organized around the themes of the chapters in Olivas’ book. The panelists included Shannon Jones, Oscar Baeza, and Binh P Le. Each gave advice or their perspective based on the themes of the chapters. I actually found this to be a very applicable session, and I honestly feel like the advice is helpful for all new and early career librarians.

Chapter 1, for example, is on self-development, and Jones explained that librarians should have a strategic plan for themselves. Write your own SWOT analysis and make a three-year career road map. I haven’t actually done this before. I have had goals and met them and made new goals, but I’ve not ever done this systematically. This is definitely a project I need to undertake this semester, especially as I have started a new job.

Chapter 2 is on knowing yourself. Baeza explained that librarians should know who they are, including knowing their strengths and weaknesses and where they come from. He emphasized family history. I find this to be absolutely true. Every time I begin to think of myself as not being successful, I remind myself that my family is proud of me. That is enough. I am so thankful for the support they have given me, even if they didn’t understand what I was doing.

Chapter 3 is on trust. Le said it plainly, “People need to trust you in order for you to lead.”

Chapter 4 is on family impact. This sort of goes with chapter 2 for me. Jones shared a beautiful story about her grandmother wanting her grandchildren to go to college, to do the things she was not given the opportunity to do as black woman born in 1912. Jones’ grandmother had a seventh grade education. She had a saying that if people wanted to keep things from black people, they would put them in books. She cultivated a culture of reading, taking her grandchildren to the library and teaching them that they should look for answers to questions. It was so touching to hear Jones talk about the impact her grandmother made on her life.

Chapter 5 is on support groups. Jones mentioned that mentors are “for a reason and a season.” I find this to be true. Currently, I realize I am in need of a couple of new mentors. She also mentioned that mentors advise and friends inspire. Certainly, your mentor should be a cheerleader in some ways, but constructive criticism is needed, too.The other thing Jones said that I found particularly inspiring was to be brave enough to walk through doors people open for you. I was intimidated about starting my new job, but then I heard from one of my references about a conversation she had had with the folks here. Without saying too much, I knew it would be both a place where I could help the library meet its goals and mission and also grow as person and professional. Jones also advised that we ought to open doors for others. If you are in the position of being a mentor, be honest, realistic, responsive, and create an exit strategy for the mentorship for both yourself and the person you are mentoring if it doesn’t work out. s

Chapter 6 has to do with involvement. Some of the most fulfilling experiences for me have been participating in campus and national committees. I am really glad that I didn’t shy away from contributing where I could in my previous job, and I am also finding ways to contribute at my new employer, both in the library and university-wide. Le really spoke well when he said committee work is not something we should avoid but actively seek out, even if it means you have to ask how you can contribute if there isn’t a specific call.

Chapter 7 is on preventing burn out. I know this is the area where I struggle. The panelists all emphasized that self-care is essential, and each shared some ways that they blow off steam or find inspiration, from keeping thank you notes to finding non-library people to you can vent to. Jones also advised that we ought to be selective about projects we take on. Some questions to ask yourself include whether an opportunity fits within your plan and/or if you can do it well in addition to your other duties and responsibilities

We skipped a couple of chapters to wrap up the session, but one of the last words of advice I wrote down was that it’s okay to sell yourself and toot your own horn.

The Library as Connector: Creating Collaborative Outreach Opportunities for Diverse Student Populations

I was really interested in attending this session because one of the people on the ACRL committee I am on works at University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and I also wanted to see my fellow University of California colleagues Roberto Delgadillo and Robin Gustafson from the University Library at UC Davis. This was a fantastic session!

The UNLV University Libraries have done fantastic work with the LGBT community at the university and area high schools. I was impressed, and it was good to know that the library is helping students who may be struggling with their identity find a place where they can be themselves and be successful college students.

The presenters introduced research about why it is important for them to work with LGBTQ students. GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey “… has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.” The presenters briefly asked if anyone in the audience had seen the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Ask Me video. I have, and it is very moving. In the video, LGBTQ students express what they want their professors to know. Lastly, the presenters shared a book called Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2010). Not only can the library “play a big role by providing student access to LGBTQ people, history, and events through library and internet sources,” but we can also build a community where students can pursue education and learning with less fear. Click here to check out the UNLV University Libraries’ LGBTQIA LibGuide.

In order to build community, the University Libraries have had some really neat events. For example, for this year’s REMixed Week (as a culturally mixed person, I was really excited to see this), the Lied Library, in collaboration with UNLV’s  Center for Social Justice, MEChA, Jean Nidetch Women’s Center, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University, and Students Organizing Diversity Activities (SODA), held a paint party and screening of Transvisible: The Bamby Salcedo Story. The library also participated in the Coming Out Carnival and GSA Talent Show. They also held a Banned Books Buffet Book Tasting, which was an interactive, self-paced event that highlighted books censored for various reasons. The library also has helped foster partnerships between the University’s GSA and the GSAs at area high schools.

The presentation from from UC Davis focused on how the library aligned its diversity goals to the campus goals by creating strategic partnerships to empower all students. This presentation was interesting because it included mini presentations from the director for the new Strategic Chicana/o and Latina/o Retention Initiatives and the director for Academic Services in the  the Athletics department at UC Davis, who touched on how the library has been assisting in their efforts to aid Latino students and student-athletes. While the University doesn’t yet have a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students yet, it does have a Center for African Diaspora Student Success and plans to open a Native American student center and a center for Chicana/o and Latina/o students. (Click here to see a list of multicultural resources available at UC Davis.) In reaching the student-athletes, the library has helped in a life skills class that is designed for athletes but is not required. In the class, the library has given workshops and gone over services, such as the 24/7 chat service. The library also has allowed the football team to have evening study sessions. The Academic Services director from the Athletics Department let participants know that every athletics department has academic services staff and suggested getting in contact to form a collaboration to reach student-athletes.

Library Instruction West 2016 Conference Notes

In early June, I traveled with two of my new colleagues to the Library Instruction West 2016 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I hadn’t ever been to Utah before, nor this conference, so it was a neat experience, and it was nice to be among instruction-specific librarians. Here are my notes from the sessions I attended.

Teaching, Learning, and Vulnerability in Digital Places

I had the pleasure of listening to Donna Lanclos’ keynote address. Lanclos is an anthropologist at UNC Chapel Hill. Her work for the last few years has been in studying higher education and academic libraries. Although you can find a much better summary about her talk here, her keynote centered on the idea that online is a place, and we need to work towards making this learning place welcoming to our students, and, to do that, we need to have professional empathy. We need to work for the connection in our online spaces. Although our Moodle and Blackboard course shells have spaces for discussion boards, why are students still creating Facebook groups for their classes? Why are students leaving the course management system to find humanity elsewhere online?

Rather than have people fill out surveys, Lanclos, in her work as an anthropologist, had people annotate their emotions related to different online spaces. On one end of the spectrum are places in the online world that are used like a toolbox in which one acts as visitor. On the other end of the spectrum are the online places in which one is a resident engaging and communicating in community. This was a very revealing exercise. In my notes, I made quick note about my online world. There are times and places online in which I act as visitor, but there are other places in which I am a resident. For example, when I had Twitter, I was an occasional visitor. Facebook is where I engage, and this had to do with personal comfort. I did not feel comfortable engaging with librarians on Twitter. The most vocal people are the ones who are heard, and I don’t have a style that is bold, sarcastic, or witty. I didn’t feel like I belonged.

Lanclos is asking us to carefully examine how we can make online learning be more personal and human. Vulnerability, she argues, is mostly approached from a personal level. If we do not give away some personal things, we seem unapproachable. There is utility in sharing, but we need to examine vulnerability in other ways, as well. Vulnerability can be characterized negatively and positively, as risky or risk-taking. When one is part of the power structure, being vulnerable is seen as risk-taking. When one is not part of the power structure, vulnerability is seen as risky behavior. How much humanity do we put out there until it is deemed risky? This is what our students are negotiating. We need to think about the values we are expressing in our instruction.

In academia, we are asked to be more empathetic and vulnerable with our students, but Lanclos indicates that what we really owe students is professional vulnerability—flexibility and transparency. With regard to library services, the classroom, and the university, we are constantly finding ways to make the process more seamless, but there is something in showing students messiness, the seams (we need to be seam-y). Being transparent in our teaching is an act of professional vulnerability. Dave Cormier writes about rhizomatic learning in his article “Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum” (2008). This type of learning and teaching is very challenging because it is centered on being vulnerable. In this inquiry-based environment, it is okay not to know the answer and engage in the half-formed ideas. We need to model to students that experimentation and not knowing are part of the learning process.

Our students will learn to challenge themselves if we model the messy process of learning, and librarians are uniquely positioned to model process given that are expertise is focused on process versus content. For the librarian, however, challenges remain in being a seam-y teacher. How do we work with low faculty expectations and a university that may view the library as a checkbox versus a partner? How do we develop relationships in the one-shot model?

I really liked Lanclos’ overview of the work she did in having people map their emotions related to online environments. You can read more about the visitors and residents continuum here.

In which environments do you act as a visitor? Where are you a resident? What is the reason for the difference? How might this exercise be adapted in your classroom? I feel like it pairs really well with Kuhlthau’s ISP model, because there are also emotions researchers experience in the research process. How might you create an online learning environment that is safe for students to be human?

Demonstrating Dialogue: Using the ACRL Framework to Teach Scholarship as a Conversation

This active learning workshop was conducted by Sarah LeMire of Texas A&M University. Before the activity portion of the workshop, LeMire and the participants discussed the scholarship as conversation frame, addressing the challenges and opportunities and strategies in teaching this concept.

Opportunities include engaging with multiple viewpoints, recognizing privilege, student contributions as information producers, and the interconnected nature of scholarship. Some conceptual challenges in teaching this frame are that scholarship is mediated in a way conversation are not; conversation is give and take, though not all research is, and because scholarship is mediated, there are barriers to access and some voices are marginalized. Some of the practical challenges in teaching these concepts are the reliance on the binary (scholarly vs. popular), pro/con assignments, and privileging academic viewpoints. Students are used to consuming information, so having them participate as producers can be challenging with this frame.

Some strategies include recognizing the relationship between authors’ work, engaging students in roles as information creators, critically challenging privilege, focusing on how authority differs based on context, and demonstrating that there can be different viewpoints.

Although I feel that LeMire did an excellent job in having the audience participate in the activity, what I was looking for were actual activities or lessons I could adapt surrounding this particular frame. While I did learn some ideas from the group I was in, because we spent the time developing learning outcomes for this frame, we didn’t get very far in actually developing an idea for the outcome. I also didn’t get to hear much from the other participants due to time, so, for me, I didn’t get a lot out of this to share with colleagues except that it was a good example of how to do active learning.

We were divided into groups based on the populations we serve, such as lower division undergraduate students in one-shot sessions, etc. Each group was then given a series of 3×5 cards with words written on them. We had to make three learning outcomes based on the scholarship as conversation frame from these cards. After creating outcomes, one member of the group selected one of the props LeMire provided, a toy telephone. We had to develop an activity focused on one of the learning outcomes we had created based on the prop. For example, using a smartphone, we could have an activity where students could get in parts to explore a hashtag and a do a think-pair-share, or they could ask each other who they would call to learn about a topic being discussed in class. Or what might certain people in their contacts lists have to say about the topic?  Who could they not reach with a phone? Another activity someone came up with was the have students work in pairs to find a social issue on Twitter and explore the different people and perspectives in the conversations. The students could then share findings with the class.

Teaching or Tyranny: Class and Course Guides

In this presentation, Nancy Noe from Auburn University took a close look at LibGuides, a tool many librarians use to develop subject, course, and class online research guides. You can download Noe’s slides here. The slides also offer articles to read on this subject. She became interested in doing more research about online guides when helping a student one day who corrected her in how to find something based on the pathway he had learned from a one-shot instruction session that used an online guide. Noe examined 500 guides from 9 institutions and found that most of the guides looked like subject guides and while useful for librarians, they weren’t utilized much by students. She also was critical of online guides because they are not a learning tool and “dehumanizes the nature of inquiry.” In a time when education is incorporating more active learning techniques and when librarianship is moving towards a more holistic view of information literacy, I can understand where she is coming from in light of critical pedagogy. The presentation also reminded me of an article by Hicks that I read last year, “LibGuides: Pedagogy to Oppress?,” in Hybrid Pedagogy.

However, there is room for directories in our landscape. Throughout the presentation, I kept thinking about the visitors and resident continuum Lanclos introduced in her keynote address at the conference. Second, simply analyzing a LibGuide does not tell you what is being done in the classroom with the guides. There could be analog activities going on in conjunction with the tools on the guide. At my own institution, some of the librarians also create online activities that are embedded into the guide, so while that shows evidence of active learning, but I can think of times at my previous job at a community college where I used a guide with paper-based activities in the classroom. Third, library instruction programs do not merely consist of guides; they are not being used a substitution for teaching.

I am not defending the standard guide as much as I am saying that everything has its place, from the subject guide that merely points out some of the subject-specific databases and websites to the class guide full of interaction and focus on process and inquiry.

I do appreciate the fact that she indicated that there didn’t seem to be much difference between subject and course guides from the guides she analyzed. Her willingness to look into a tool critically that the profession embraces can help us to be more critical of the guides we make, and it also speaks to the importance of continuing to reach out to faculty regarding instructional efforts and working with them to develop instructional materials. There is no point to make these things if instructors do not use them or recommend that students use them.

The Road Untraveled: Alternative Outreach for Instruction

In this presentation, Carrie Moran and Rachel Mulvihill of the University of Central Florida shared how the library has reached out and engaged with campus partners to reach faculty and students. You can find the presentation slides here. Traditionally, many libraries outreach to specific departments through subject specialists and liaison models. For example, there might a librarian who is the psychology librarian or there may be librarians who are responsible for reaching out to faculty in a few specific majors. UCF Libraries, instead, have sought partnerships based on specific programs, such as the graduate school, first year experience program, Honors program, online programs, international student program, transfer student program, and faculty.

The library partnered with the Center for Distributed Learning to put the library’s information literacy modules in the learning object repository and had them incorporate library tools into Canvas, the university’s learning management system (from the image on the slides, it looks like they incorporating library tools into Canva using the LibGuides CMS). They also worked with instructional designers to design a Library Canvas Course.

Rather than start new ideas from scratch, the library sought places where library expertise could contribute to what other programs were already doing. The library found ways to reach the campus community through an online video presentation with the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, presented at New Faculty Orientations, played a role in the Summer Research Academy through the Office of Undergraduate Research, held College of Graduate Studies workshops in scholarly communication and a dissertation forum. For the Honors program, the library held an Honors in the Major workshop covering research basics (the library got a list of students with their majors prior to the workshop) and a series of thesis development workshops. They partnered with Transfer and Transition Services’ Foundations of Excellence Transfer Initiative, participating in two interdepartmental workshops, “Bagels with TTS” and “Are You on the Knight Track? Transfer Student Seminar.” To help with library myth-busting at New Student Orientations, the library invited First Year Experience Orientation leaders to go to the library for a session. Although too much time has passed for me to make sense of my notes, the library also did something with the Office of Research and Commercialization.

Moran also offered that the library can also seek out partnerships with non-academic departments, such as personal/social groups or clubs. For example, being involved with the Pride Faculty and Staff Association at UCF, United Faculty of Florida UCF chapter, and the Center for Success of Women Faculty has fostered opportunities for library outreach. Being on search committees can also foster opportunities. The library definitely needs to meet people where they are and get involved with the spaces, places, and activities other departments do on campus.

There is something I wrote here regarding librarian paper dolls and insomnia cookies. I’m a little bummed I can’t remember the details, but I can always contact the presenters. It was a fun, inspiring presentation.

Breaking it Down and Climbing Back Up: Learning Theories & Approached to Instruction

In this presentation, Erica DeFrain from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Julia Glassman and Doug Worsham from UCLA, and Nicole Pagowsky from the University of Arizona discussed using active learning, constructivism, and critical pedagogy as instructional strategies to motivate learners and make learning memorable, meaningful, and transformative.  You can download the slides and the handout that went along with this presentation here.

During the first part of the presentation, the presenters had us work in pairs and think and share about a time when learning was memorable, meaningful, and transformative. I really struggled with this question, and I know that reflecting on our own positive and negative learning experiences can inform our own instruction, but I think transformative is what threw me off. Using our experiences, we made a list of characteristics. For example, what makes learning memorable, meaningful, and transformative might be that it is authentic and engaging and happens when learners and teachers are motivated and motivating.

  • Active learning focuses on being memorable.
  • Social constructivism focuses on being meaningful.
    • Constructivism: we learn when we build knowledge with our concepts and experience.
    • Social constructivism: we learn when we interact with each other to build knowledge with concepts and experience (this is why we were doing think-pair-share)
  • Critical pedagogy focuses on being transformative.
    • Social justice perspective that challenges status quo and how things are/came to be
    • “Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom and mere opinions to understand deep meanings, root causes, social contexts, ideologies, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse.” (Shor, Empowering Education, 1992, p. 129)

Interestingly, the panelists asked who had trouble coming up with an experience from higher education that was memorable, meaningful, and transformative and prompted a discussion about barriers to this kind of learning. Barriers that our group came up with include lecture forma, lack of confidence, language/culture, research vs. teaching focus, quantitative assessment, prescription, and lack of personal interaction.

The next part of the presentation had us look at one of four case studies. We were asked to identify the learning outcome for the case study we selected, and then were asked to develop active, constructivist, and critical approaches for this learning outcome. I really struggled with this workshop. I think it was more helpful for me to hear from other people about what they would do, but, unfortunately, I didn’t write anything down. I think this might be a good in-house professional development session for instruction librarian teams to do.

Note: I’m not sure why, but I wrote down Bean’s Engaging Ideas (2011).

Mapping Landmarks in the Territory: What do Threshold Concepts Look Like to Students?

This was possibly my absolute favorite presentation and workshop of the whole conference! Margy MacMillan of Mount Royal University analyzed the transcripts of 400 student interviews from a long-term qualitative study of the student experience at Mount Royal University. The questions and initial study did not originate with the library, so the questions were not specific to research. MacMillan, independently, decided to see if anything in the interviews revealed students’ experience with information literacy. She specifically wanted to know if students were touching on anything related to the threshold concepts (now called conceptual understandings) outlined in the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. She coded all the data based on the specific concepts or concepts and also indicated students’ various stages learning of the concept, such as unaware, aware, or understood. Some students could not see any “doorways,” “where lack of awareness of a frame is a barrier to learning.” Other students “…appear to be looking through a frame, but may not have crossed a threshold, and other reflect the impact of gaining a deeper understanding of the frame, and how that changed the participant’s view of research, information, or learning.” Understanding where students may be struggling based on their perspective can help inform the language we use in instruction and in the development of activities and assignments.

After introducing her work, MacMillan also had us try out this metacognition reading exercise. We read and coded various excerpts from transcripts that she had pre-cut. She asked us each to find a partner and look over the strips together. My partner pulled up the Framework on her laptop, so we could see the concepts, practices, and dispositions. Together, we coded the strips based on the concepts we thought students were touching upon. Below are some photos from the data my partner and I coded.

During the session, I remarked what a great exercise this would be for librarians and writing faculty to do with our own student populations. At my library, we have Instruction Brown Bag meetings every so often to talk about new ideas, things we have read, or presentations we have watched. We’re actually meeting tomorrow to go over things we learned at this conference. We mostly attended different sessions, so we could get the most out of the conference program. I’m planning to share this research and idea. I am also going to a workshop on Friday where I might have time to talk to a writing lecturer and longtime online friend (I was a writing tutor for her students at my undergrad institution where she was a new instructor) about this idea. I know that in the past that the writing sections participating in the pilot with embedded information literacy had a reflective writing assignment, so I am curious if those could be looked at again and coded…

MacMillan also provided her PowerPoint slides and notes from the discussion part of the presentation and workshop. You find these documents here. For more information about the data collected through four rounds of Assessment Seminar interviews at MRU, see http://bit.ly/mruasem. Contact MacMillan at mmacmillan@mtroyal.ca and @margymaclibrary.

Note: It appears that someone may have introduced what they feel is a missing frame in the framework: Reading as Translation. That’s all I wrote next to the listed frames. I wish I had been more precise in my note-taking.

Lofty Conversations, Grounding Teaching: “Threshold Concepts,” “Decoding the Disciplines,” and Our Pedagogical Praxis

In this presentation, Andrea Baer of the University of West Georgia introduced threshold concepts, the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, and the Decoding the Disciplines model. She related the model to threshold concepts, and asked how we might apply this model in our teaching of the conceptual understandings found in the Framework. This presentation made me think about “Inventing the University,” in which Bartholomae (1985) speaks to the idea of demystifying academic writing.  Working in groups, we discussed how we might apply the decoding model for a specific scenario. You can find Baer’s slides at the link here; make sure to check out her reference list.

Land, Meyer, and Baille (2010) write that threshold concepts are “core or foundational concepts that, once grasped by the learner, create new perspectives and ways of understanding a discipline of challenging knowledge domain.” Meyer and Land (2003) characterize these concepts as being transformative, irreversible, integrative, bounded, and troublesome. Formerly, ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education identified six threshold concepts, but due to some disagreement about whether the frames really are threshold concepts, the frames are now called conceptual understandings. These threshold concepts or conceptual ways of understanding offer a way to “…articulate…shared beliefs providing multiple ways of helping us name what we know and how we can use what we know…” (Yancey, Introduction to Naming What We Know, 2015). They provide a lens.

The six core concepts, which address areas that students can find difficult or messy to understand, include:

  • Authority is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration

Bottlenecks of learning, as noted by Anderson (1996) cited in Middendorf and Pace (2004), are “points in a course where the learning of a significant number of students in interrupted.” For example, in history, students may struggle with what is essential and nonessential information. In literature, students may struggle with the idea that they must interpret and argue based on textual evidence, rather than gut instinct.

Each discipline has its own ways of thinking. Middendorf and Pace (2004) note that many students are not necessarily taught disciplinary skills, practices, or ways of thinking, nor are given much practice. There are seven decoding steps instructors can take to help students learn these skills, practices, and ways of thinking. They include:

  • Identifying cognitive and affective bottlenecks—where are students getting stuck?
  • Unpacking a process—how does an expert do this task/process?
  • Modeling—how can the task/process be demonstrated explicitly?
  • Student practice and feedback—what opportunities can students have to engage in the task and get feedback?
  • Motivation—how will students be motivated?
  • Assessment—how well are students doing the task?
  • Sharing results—how can the gained knowledge about learning be shared with other educators?

The last point made me think about Lanclos’ keynote with regard to professional vulnerability.

Threshold concepts are similar to bottlenecks of learning in that both address the stickiness students face when working through the lens of a particular discipline. While threshold concepts provide the conceptual understandings in a discipline, decoding provides a model for instructional planning in the discipline.

How might we apply decoding to the Framework? How can these challenging concepts be explored through modeling and activities?

  • What are the bottlenecks?
  • How can we unpack the process?
  • How can we model it?
  • What sorts of activities can we have students do and what kind of feedback might they get?
  • What will be the motivation for students to learn this concepts?
  • How might we assess this concept?
  • How might we share results?

At this point in the presentation, Baer had us think of a discipline in which we often work and identify where students often get stuck when doing research of using sources in that context. Someone in our group mentioned that when he works with students in the social sciences who are writing literature reviews, they often get stuck in how to annotate and synthesize the information from the scholarship. This relates to the threshold concept Scholarship as Conversation. While the process had been unpacked, the process hadn’t been modelled explicitly and the students hadn’t had opportunities to practice and get feedback before turning in their literature reviews. Together, we discussed strategies for activities students could do. One of the group members had actually attended a workshop called “Bridge t­­­­­­he Gap Between Faculty Expectation and Student Experience: Teaching Students to Annotate and Synthesize Sources” that introduced activities to help students write annotations and read and synthesize articles, so he shared those materials and activities with us. You can find the presentation slides and other information, including activities and lesson plan, for the Bridge the Gap session on this LibGuide. The accompanying source sheets, summary table, and the lesson plan are all available for download.